If you’re traveling with LIFT Church for the 21 Day corporate fast, you’re starting the home stretch today – Week 3! Some of you have not wavered in your ability to deny yourselves whatever you’re fasting. Others have struggled and maybe even given up or given in to your desires. It’s OKAY!
Don’t treat fasting like a religious law from the Old Testament. If you do, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Start fresh and remember, your sacrifice is met with more time in God’s presence. You superimpose a desire to know God more intimately with your desire for certain foods. The time you might have spent watching TV or checking social media is spent in prayer. Yielding your fleshly reliance reminds you of an almighty God. Nothing on this earth holds more power over you than HIM. Your God fills every gap.
So, if you’re thinking of giving up, don’t. Your heart before the Lord is what matters most and there’s something powerful awaiting you this week.
“With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2, MSG)
If you’ve been watching any world news, you know we are living in interesting times. Instability in various nations around the world, changes in leadership, and uncertainty seems to be the overriding noise in our ears. Romans 13 reminds us that all authority which exists has been established by God. The Apostle Paul admonishes us to be “good citizens” under that authority.
Part of our civic duty as Christians is to pray for our local, state, national and international leaders. The problems they seek to solve are not black and white. They are complex and varying and we must lift them up and ask God to intervene with his sovereignty and love in every situation. Pray for safety and wisdom. Ask God to help leaders to lead with humility and grace.
“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.” (1 Timothy 2:1-3)
Pray for your personal leaders today. Your boss, your pastors, your kid’s teachers. You often don’t know the weight they carry. To fulfil the vision for an organisation comes with a high price of sacrifice on the part of those in leadership.
They think about their work day and night. Problems at every level make their way to the top. Misunderstood, tired, and unsure at times, they must forge ahead anyway for the sake of the team they lead. They don’t always do everything perfectly, but they stand before you everyday and do their best.
The Apostle Paul asked for prayer in Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. As strong and fervent as he was in his message and presentation, he still needed people to come around him, support him, believe in him, and mostly PRAY for him. Prayer makes a difference.
“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Ephesians 6: 13-18, MSG)
Much of the New Testament was written to churches, giving instruction and encouragement. We are no different today in our need for constant affirmation of our faith, authentic friendships, a pat on the back. Hebrews 10:24 in The Message says, “let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out.”
It’s easy to offer up a prayer for someone in your life who may need it. Today, why not go the extra step and use a little imagination in how you encourage someone in your world?
You often receive back what you’re willing to give when it comes to friendship and community. Think about who in your church might need to hear from you today. See how resourceful you can be in reaching out. Try picking up the phone instead of the easy text message. Invite someone for dinner or coffee. Write a nice card. Bring flowers.
You know the old adage, “actions speak louder than words.” Usually things are cliché because they hold truth. God created us with a need for friendship and support. You aren’t meant to do life alone.
Sometimes, the people closest to you are the ones you can unknowingly neglect. You become too familiar, comfortable in your surroundings, busy with your schedules. The obligations right in front of you become nuisances rather than opportunities. Crying children, homework, a wife who needs a listening ear or a hand in the kitchen… The predictability of it all means you go through the motions, numb to the need.
Today, stop and notice your immediate family. Pray for your spouse, your children, your parents. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any significant needs they might have even if they are unspoken. Your first ministry is in your home. God in you, revealed to those who are close, is authentic faith. They matter most. They watch and learn about the Lord by how you live out your convictions.
Instead of focussing on yourself, why not ask someone in your house how you can serve him? Thank God for those he has placed in your life. They long for you more than you know.
As you continue to spend time in prayer and fasting, your relationship with your Heavenly Father is deepening. The closer you are to him, the more clearly you hear his voice, the more secure you feel about your circumstances, your family, your work.
Now, it’s time to look outside of yourself and begin to see how you can impact your surroundings. Look at the encouraging words of Peter:
“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes.” (1 Peter 4:7-11 MSG)
When Jesus’ ministry on earth was finished and he rose from the grave to be seated with God in heaven for all eternity, he sent a helper for you in the Holy Spirit. You have hope and can access power because of this gift. The Holy Spirit comes to guide you and provide wisdom. If there’s something specific you’re praying about, trust his presence in your life.
Weigh your options against the word of God. Ask the Holy Spirit to confirm through scripture what you’re seeking. Speak to someone you trust who has a close relationship to God and ask him or her to pray about your situation too. Lastly, be led by peace. If you’re unsure of something and do not have peace, the Holy Spirit isn’t guiding you that direction. At times, you take a step of faith into the unknown and you may not have all the answers; but you should have peace.
Our beautiful helpmate, the Holy Spirit, nudges us when we need to know something about our kids. He might bring someone to mind for whom you need to pray or ring. He is faithful with revelation so you aren’t in the dark. If you trust the Holy Spirit, you never have to fear. Listen closely for him as you continue your time of fasting.